Inspiring Young Professional Leads the Way for Women in Air Traffic Control

4 Min Read


by Trish Gilbert

IFATCA Executive Vice President Americas

As we celebrate Women’s History month, the Americas region highlights a young leader just starting her leadership journey.

Meet Natelie Chappell, hailing from a family of aviators, she received her private pilot’s license in 2017. She was destined to become a career pilot, or it seemed so. While flying she was often curious about what appeared to here were the bosses of the sky. She inquired of her father, who was her first flight instructor, about air traffic controllers. Because they seem to be “the boss” of pilots, so to speak, she quickly shifted her interest to a possible career as an air traffic controller. It wasn’t until she met a female controller and NATCA leader from DCA that she decided to pursue the career. Natelie affirms, “Angela is the reason I am an air traffic controller. She took the time to thoroughly answer all my questions about the profession and encouraged and inspired me.” Natelie was a senior in high school at that point.

She later attended the Air Traffic – Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) school at the Community College of Beaver County where she then worked as an air traffic controller at the air traffic control tower before working in Frederick, Maryland at that Federal Contract Tower (FCT). Finally, she began her ATC career in the FAA at Manassas tower in Virginia. She now has progressed to Potomac Consolidated TRACON (PCT) where she has almost completed her training in the Shenandoah area. PCT provides air traffic control service to Baltimore, Washington and the Richmond/Charlottesville areas. PCT controls airspace over Andrews, BWI, DCA, Dulles, Richmond and many other area airports.

Natelie loves being an air traffic controller. She says, “You have to come to work ready for any situation and think outside the box. It’s high stakes and you are responsible for keeping everyone safe. Training is the most challenging – the studying, the dedication and the mental energy you use is similar to when I was learning to fly. “

In addition to the demanding career as an air traffic controller, especially while going through training at a high-level facility like PCT, Natelie became President of the area chapter (Capital Region) of Women in Aviation International. She served in the role for the last two years. She is proud of the progress the chapter made since the pandemic and returning to in-person engagement. She felt that while the chapter blossomed, she also grew due to the experiences in the role. The annual conference for Women in Aviation International will be held March 21-23 in Orlando, Florida.

Now Natelie is taking on more active roles in NATCA, the U.S. member association, as the eastern region legislative co-chair. She is especially proud of her relationship with Congresswoman Wexton who was integral in obtaining funding for Manassas tower in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation.
Thank you, Natelie, for your active role in your profession and in encouraging and inspiring young girls to follow in your footsteps.

IFATCA takes pride in our worldwide federation, uniting associations across the globe. Our diverse membership comprises talented air traffic controllers who are passionate about their careers and actively contribute to enhancing our profession through their work in various domains.